Sunday, July 17, 2011

To whom shall we go?

Yesterday a good friend of mine announced his declaration that he no longer believed the LDS Church was true. He prepared a short explanation that clearly has a lot more thought and detail behind it. I was impressed by the charitable tone of his presentation. It wasn't about acrimony or attempts to tear others down. It reflected his own spiritual and intellectual struggles with a lot of issues about which I have thought deeply myself. I could go down the list and address each point in one way or another. But I am neither a polemicist nor an apologist. In fact, I don't even like those disciplines. And I have too much respect for my friend to attempt to dissuade him with those tactics.

I talked about this with my wife last night. It seemed to me, and she didn't really dispute the point, that aside from some very basic principles of Gospel belief in their most simplistically expressed form, and maybe a bare list of requirements for a Temple recommend even if those can be interpreted very differently (I've sat on both sides of that table), every single member of the church has a uniquely different testimony of its truthfulness. I suppose you could even take that on the "unbelief" side that everyone who lacks a testimony, does it in their own uniquely personal way. And there are a few members who if their testimonies were the only options I had to believe, I'd probably leave the church too.

I even posed the question to my wife, trained more in the sciences and math than I am, as to whether any two scientific minds saw things in exactly the same factually scientific way. Sure, there are basics that are universal, but even those paradigms shift at times in a Kuhnian sense. I am not saying there is no humanly discernible, ultimate truth (well, maybe I am). My law profession certainly makes it difficult as we are so skeptically distrustful of varying  perspectives of "fact" and the weight of evidence. And there's that old joke about two economists in the room with three different opinions, applicable to most academic disciplines. My wife is trained in Physics, which you think is something that either is or isn't on universal laws. And my dear friend with the treatise is a computer scientist where the simple 1's and 0's either switch on or don't to achieve a consistent result. I'm far from that expertise, but with my experience in digital electronics and a lot of electro-magnetic interference of one sort or another, I still remain a little skeptical of those "offs" and "ons."

The spiritual thought that came to me was that of Peter in the Gospel of John. After miracles providing food to His followers, the Lord launched into some deep and pretty strange doctrines about eating his body, drinking blood, moldering ancestors, and absolute faith in Him, this wandering Rabbi dusty and stained with travel in our less than perfect world. At that point many of his followers simply turned away. The Lord turned to the Twelve still with Him and said, "Will ye also go away?" Peter's response echoes through the ages and penetrates my own heart to the same expression I would give to Brother Joseph and  President Monson as well as to the Lord, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."


  1. OK. So in the middle of all this seriousness, I learn that my good friend AnonymousD was chuckling at me, Mr. lawyer, with my denials of polemicism and apologetics. I admit I noted the irony and I join the chuckles. Yet this still supports my ideas that we humans are so complex and inherently confused that I find it hard to get bent out of shape over anything I think I understand or that anyone else claims to.

    Anyway, I'm more than happy (sort of) to receive more criticisms of my thinking. (I'm talking to you, AnonymousD!) I'm old enough to be beyond "angry-young-man-syndrome" but not old enough to be "old-man-yelling-at-kids-on-the-lawn." I have yet to screen out an obscene or offensive comment on this blog (and I doubt those will come from AnonymousD). I've had so very few that criticize or challenge at all. Come on. I can't be that inoffensive!

  2. (Anon/M) Nothing is more satisfying than two lawyers making fun of each other for a change! And just yesterday, Son #1 and Son #2 were exchanging Lawyer jokes in the car. It took all my will power (I do have a little) to keep quiet and not pipe up, "I know two, maybe three, that are all right!" But what do I know?

  3. Lawyers love lawyer jokes but only if we're telling them to each other.

  4. John 6:68 is a scripture that has come to my mind when I or others have had difficulties like this. Thanks.


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